Yes, we’re having fun with a small sample size, and reading anything into what a player does over a five-game stretch is probably not a great idea, but it is also hard to not get just a little bit excited at what we have seen from Luis García, who is 6 for 19 (.316/.350/.737) with two HRs and two doubles in his last five games.
Davey Martinez talked earlier this season about one of the issues with García being that he’s able to make contact with just about anything thrown his way, strike or not, so he wanted to get him to stay in the strike zone and be more selective about which pitched he swings at in the zone, and it appears that message has gotten through to the 21-year-old infielder.
“It’s one of those things that it’s both good and bad, the fact that I can make contact,” García said through translator Octavio Martinez after a two-homer game on August 4th.
“I have my — I feel like my swing can protect a lot of the zone,” he explained, “so I’ve tried to focus on staying in the strike zone more and focusing in on making good hard contact.
“Especially going the other way with pitches, that’s helped me a lot.”
García hit 21 home runs over his first four seasons in the Nationals’ system, after signing out of the Dominican Republic for $1.3M in 2016.
So far this season, he has 16 between Triple-A Rochester and the majors.
His manager said on Sunday that a lot of García’s success this season is tied to his pitch selection.
“He’s definitely trying to swing at more balls in the zone. His contact rate is really high,” the fourth-year skipper said, after García went 2 for 4 with a double in Sunday’s series finale in Atlanta.
“We talked to him about getting the ball up in the strike zone because he’s one of the left-handed hitters that’s a better high ball hitter than he is on the ball down, so we want him to look up, up in the zone, but he hit the ball well today again, tough lefty in [Max] Fried and he got a base hit and then he comes in and drives a ball, hits a double off the wall, so a good day for him, so that’s encouraging.”
Shrinking the zone, and looking for pitches in your spots, Martinez said, is the key to having success in the big leagues.
“For young hitters, we often talk about being aggressive in the strike zone, but they also got to know what balls they hit hard, which balls they want to attack, especially when they’re 2-0, 1-0, 3-1 — it’s not an automatic free swing, it’s knowing who you are, and what balls you hit the best and look in that particular zone.
“if it’s not there, then you know what, you’re still sitting there 2-1, or 3-2, and you still got another chance to get a ball where you want it.”
“I tend to get more geared up for every pitch, focused and see every pitch better, and I’m out there battling every single pitch, so I’m being more selective, so it’s been working for me,” García said last week.
Will it work for him tonight in Citi Field, where the Nationals and New York Mets start a three game series?
HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR TONIGHT’S GAME WITH THE METS:
NOTES: As noted in the tweet above, Juan Soto is back in the lineup. Huzzah!